Quick Tour of an ‘Old Style’ Chicago Bar

WBEZ: “Why are there so many Old Style beer signs in the city of Chicago? Just on our own we counted 69 bars with Old Style signs, and there are likely more. You don’t run into the same plethora of Old Style signs in New York, or Los Angeles, or — I don’t know — Omaha … A lot of Chicagoans love these signs. There are photos of them all over Instagram and an entire blog devoted to tracking them.”

“Old Style was first brewed in 1902 by the Wisconsin-based G. Heileman Brewing Company, and became available in Chicago by the 1930s. But the connection between the brand and Chicago wasn’t really sealed until 1950, when Old Style started sponsoring the Cubs. Getting into Wrigley Field was big.” Beer historian Liz Garibay explains: “Here you are, sitting in this iconic place, in this iconic city, drinking this particular beer. People started to build a little more brand loyalty to it then.”

“The signs came about in the 1970s. That’s when Old Style began giving them out for free to bars they’d done a lot of business with, even paying crews to install them. It was a win-win: Old Style got to assert its brand, while bar owners got a bright shiny light to lure in customers. Other brands also handed out signs, but not nearly as many as Old Style.”

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